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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Framing the "War on Terror"

Let me explain why I could not watch Condi Rice's testimony today.

I tuned in a couple of times, read a news story or two about it, and watched some of the analysis on CNN afterward -- but it all seemed pretty pointless.

Essentially, Rice was addressing questions that are secondary to the bigger critique of the Bush administration's war on terror. She argued, from what I have seen, heard, and/or read, that the Bush administration took terrorism seriously -- and that no specific measures could have been taken to prevent the 9/11 attacks.

Since she was testifying before the 9/11 Commission, I guess this particular framing was to be expected.

However, the most potent critique of the "war on terror" concerns what the administration did after 9/11. Critics like Richard Clarke, Wesley Clark, and John Mearsheimer have argued that the war on Iraq had almost nothing to do with fighting al Qaeda and distracted from the ongoing fighting/searching in Afghanistan.

In other words, could Rice have readily defended the administration's policies had the entire event been framed around the question of Iraq? Read Rice's opening statement and note that she certainly didn't discuss Iraq in this manner.

Rice says Clarke is wrong, that the President did not push him to link Iraq to 9/11 -- but ultimately, who cares? Take the Bush people at their word. The President acted without a link between Iraq and 9/11. The decision simply reflected a very poor judgment call -- and something of an intelligence failing (though this is yet to be determined by a different Commission).

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